When they were insanely bouncy, nutty, playful puppies they taught me never to leave my sneakers out on the porch ... if I ever wanted to see them again.
Other lessons included furniture repair, chicken repair (TLC, neosporin ...the chicken survived), find the dog bowl, find the tool, find the ... just fill in the blank with anything a lab could pick up and carry.
They even taught my daughter Katie to swear ... which is pretty amazing because she's a goody two shoes (thank God) and none of us walk around swearing here. We just don't and we really were careful about what TV we watched when they were little too. We basically skipped prime time TV during the '90's.
So you can imagine my shock years ago, when both puppies jumped up on 7 year old Katie in that crazy puppy, springbok way and she let loose with,
"GET DOWN YOU BASTARDS!"
To this day, we're still not sure where she learned that, but it's become one of those stories parents never get tired of telling. "Remember that time the puppies jumped on ... "
I think the theme running through most of their lessons (besides unconditional love) is simply patience and rose smelling while you can.
We call it the "barn", but really it's a 12' by 16' shed with a loft upstairs. Mrs. FC and I built it from a Popular Mechanics plan in 1989 when we were still in the singlewide trailer. It came out pretty good which is a testament to the clarity and accuracy of the plans as neither of us had built anything of this size before, much less poured a concrete slab.
There's an old pedestal fan in it and Flounder really likes to sleep in front of it on hot days when the barn is open.
These days, the barn is showing some wear and tear and it could use a new roof covering. Last week, I dove into cleaning it out and making it usable as a woodshop again. I moved a bunch of stored "stuff" up into the loft to open up some workspace.
Finally I had room to work again!
So of course, the dogs moved in as soon as I opened the doors. I don't mind really, as I said, I love being with the knuckleheads and my education is not complete.
I think the ideal job for me would be one in which my dogs could come along. When I worked as a painter years ago, my brother brought along his dog, Brown, on every job. He was just part of the equipment like the rollers and brushes. I don't remember him ever being in the way.
Flounder and Feather are big dogs of course, so they are sometimes in the way, but I hate to disturb them while they are planning their next lesson for me.
This particular day, I think the lesson was a review of patience as a virtue, since they set themselves up in the entrance of the barn so that I had to weave between them every time I went from the table saw to the outside work area.
Flounder avoiding the puparrazi.
Maybe if they had known I was making them a new doggy den for their corner of the porch, they would have moved out into the yard for their napping ... er, lesson planning, so I could have finished quicker.
Or maybe it was just part of their clever plan to slow me down so I could do some rose smellin' myself.